Islam Slimani

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Slimani scores another winner as Monaco climbs up to 5th

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PARIS (AP) Islam Slimani scored the winner for the second straight game as Monaco beat Montpellier 1-0 to leapfrog its rival into fifth place in the French league on Friday.

The Algeria striker almost left the club during last month’s winter transfer window but is back in favor under coach Robert Moreno.

Slimani headed in Russia midfielder Aleksandr Golovin’s corner in the 52nd minute, in a match where Monaco mostly dominated only to almost concede an injury-time equalizer.

Moreno dropped former Spain midfielder Cesc Fabregas and opted for a 4-3-3 with Stevan Jovetic supporting league top scorer Wissam Ben Yedder and Slimani.

Jovetic, twice, Ben Yedder and Golovin went close in a one-sided first half as Monaco snatched at chances on the way to securing a third straight win.

Montpellier, strong at home but weak away, dropped to sixth spot.

January transfer window grades

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With the January transfer window now shut, it is time to reflect on which Premier League clubs did the best business as we dish out some grades.

Who doesn’t love to rank which team did the best business? Exactly. Here it goes.

[ TRANSFER TRACKER: Full list of January PL deals


Arsenal: B+
Sensible if not unspectacular signings as Cedric Soares and Pablo Mari arrived on loan. Arsenal needed additions in defense and they’ve done that but the caliber of signings are perhaps a little lower than what many were expecting. Mikel Arteta has had a big impact early on and knew the Gunners defense needed shoring up. Cedric and Mari should have the desired impact. Keeping hold of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who was linked with a move to Barcelona, was also a big plus for the Gunners.

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Aston Villa: B
They made five new signings in January and they were forced to do so after injuries to Tom Heaton, Wesley and John McGinn. Danny Drinkwater and Pepe Reina arrived on loan and bring experience, while Mbwana Samatta is a wild-card signing who may take a little time to settle and Louie Barry is one for the future. Borja Baston arrived on deadline day as they got the deal over the line. A busy and solid January for Dean Smith.


Bournemouth: D-
No new arrivals at Bournemouth and perhaps most importantly, no departures. Josh King, Ryan Fraser, Callum Wilson and Nathan Ake were all wanted but they have stuck around to help Eddie Howe‘s men battle against relegation. Given that is the case, it was surprising that Bournemouth haven’t added reinforcements, especially in defense as they are struggling with injuries. They have plenty of options up top but they’ve struggled to score goals and the Cherries may rue not doing business when the final day of the season rolls around.


Brighton & Hove Albion: D
Graham Potter‘s side have played well all season but have just lacked cutting edge so it is a surprise they haven’t shuffled their strikers around. Aaron Mooy’s loan deal was made permanent and Tariq Lamptey is a very promising player who has arrived from Chelsea but they probably need a couple more players to help drag themselves out of a relegation battle.


Burnley: C
A quiet window for Burnley but that is how Sean Dyche likes it. They brought in Josh Brownhill from Bristol City who will add poise to their midfield, while they brought back Nakhi Well from a loan spell at QPR then sold him to Bristol City. Shrewd business, as usual, from Burnley.


Chelsea: D-
No new signings for Frank Lampard who still hasn’t signed a single player as Blues boss. Lampard looked disappointed when he spoke on deadline day as the transfer ban had been lifted after appeal but Chelsea didn’t make the most of that opportunity. Olivier Giroud didn’t leave after all and Lampard couldn’t bring in Edinson Cavani or Dries Mertens late on to bolster their attack. A poor window for a young Chelsea side who needed a few additions to cement their spot in the top four.

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Crystal Palace: D
Not a great window for Roy Hodgson‘s side after injuries hit them hard over the winter months. Cenk Tosun will score a few goals but his loan move from Everton isn’t really the answer and although Hodgson spoke about Palace spending big and wanting to be backed in the window, nothing was spent. Wilfried Zaha is still around, so that’s the main positive.


Everton: C
The Toffees didn’t do any major business which was a little surprising but new boss Carlo Ancelotti is still getting to know his players and they are far enough away from the relegation scrap to stick with what they have. Youngster Jarrad Branthwaite arrived from Carlisle United. That was it. Richarlison was linked with a big move to Barcelona but that was never really going to happen. Quiet window.


Leicester City: C-
The Foxes swooped to sign Ryan Bennett on loan from Wolves on deadline day and they didn’t really need to do anything in January. Brendan Rodgers has a strong squad with plenty of options and they are in third place in the table for a reason. Many believed they needed extra cover for Jamie Vardy but Kelechi Iheanacho and Ayoze Perez have stepped up.


Liverpool: C
Takumi Minamino came in early on a bargain deal and in truth, how on earth do you strengthen this team? Jurgen Klopp kept hold of some of his squad players as Xherdan Shaqiri was linked with a move away but right now this Liverpool squad is so strong and everybody wants to stay. An easy window.


Man City: C
Getting Aymeric Laporte back to full fitness was like a new signing and Man City and Pep Guardiola rarely do business in January and they didn’t do anything. That said, a new center back has to be the main aim in the summer.


Man United: C+
Bruno Fernandes finally arrived for up to $88 million which is great news for the next few years but why did it take so long? United could have really used him in the last few weeks. Anyway, it is done. A loan deal for Odion Ighalo was struck on deadline day as a short-term option with Marcus Rashford out injured, as they were linked with signing Islam Slimani, Josh King and many others but Ighalo was the man to get a dream move to Old Trafford.

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Newcastle United: B+
You know what, that was a really good window for the Magpies. They had injuries and addressed them with Danny Rose coming in on loan at left back and Nabil Bentaleb will add extra quality in midfield. Valentino Lazaro will add some depth to the wide areas too and the only thing missing was a striker as they missed out on Olivier Giroud.


Norwich City: F
It is clear the Canaries think they are going to get relegated. They do not spend big in the transfer market and they have picked up Lukas Rupp and Ondrej Duda who will bolster their options in midfield and attack. If Norwich were serious about staying up they would have spent $50-60 million in this window but that isn’t their model and the yo-yo club have had enough of saddling themselves with debt when relegation arrives.


Sheffield United: B+
Signing Sander Berge for a club-record fee was a huge surprise and the Norwegian midfielder is one of the brightest young central midfielders in Europe. Chris Wilder made a few other shrewd signings in Jack Rodwell, Jack Robinson plus young Greek defender Panagiotis Retsos and young Dutch striker Zivkovic also arrived. For a newly-promoted team who are pushing for European qualification, this was a great window.


Southampton: C
Their recent form suggests the squad is good enough to be midtable in the Premier League so they didn’t need any additions but after losing Cedric and Yoshida on loan ahead of their contracts expiring (both were good deals as they received loan fees for players they would lose in the summer for nothing) they only brought in Kyle Walker-Peters on loan from Spurs. Ralph Hasenhuttl will be eyeing a big clear out in the summer as Saints have a huge number of players out on loan.


Tottenham Hotspur: B
Jose Mourinho will be fairly pleased with their business but admitted it would have been better had they signed a striker. With Harry Kane injured they pushed hard to sign Edinson Cavani, Willian Jose, Olivier Giroud and others, but couldn’t get them over the line. Exciting winger Steven Bergwijn arrived and Christian Eriksen finally signed for Inter Milan for $20 million in a great piece of business for a player who was out of contract this summer. Gedson Fernandes is on loan with a view to buy permanently and Mourinho has done some decent business.

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Watford: D-
Pretty poor window for the Hornets and that was probably because they were playing so well at the start of it, then Nigel Pearson‘s side suffered a few disappointing results late in January. They could probably have done with adding another defender and they tried hard to sign Ben Gibson on loan. Wide player Ignacio Pussetto did arrive and he looks like he will have a big impact.


West Ham United: C
David Moyes did some business late on and boy did the Hammers need that. Jarrod Bowen and Tomas Soucek arrived in the final days of the window and Darren Randolph provides cover in the goalkeeping department. West Ham needed to do more business but couldn’t get deals over the line for Gedson Fernandes and a few others. Bowen should help deliver the goals they need to get themselves out of trouble.


Wolverhampton Wanderers: C+
Some savvy buys from Wolves as they continue to purchase real quality with their links to Jorge Mendes. Daniel Podence is a great signing and will be an immediate starter while youngsters Leonardo Campana and Luke Matheson arrived and will be ones for the future.

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Man United trying to sign Josh King

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Manchester United are trying to sign Bournemouth striker Josh King on deadline day, as the Red Devils have had one bid turned down by the Cherries.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

After signing Bruno Fernandes on Thursday, maybe the Red Devils aren’t done yet in the January transfer window?

Watch our transfer deadline day show from 6-8 p.m. ET on Jan. 31, live on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com.

However, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, who managed King when he was in charge of the reserve team at United, has spoken on deadline day and doesn’t believe Man United will do anymore business.

“I don’t expect any more business to be done,” Solskjaer said. “Sometimes I say something here and something else happens. I don’t want to make speculation grow more and more today. I expect nothing to happen but that doesn’t mean it can’t happen.”

The key detail here is that Solskjaer said that Marco Rojo and Ashley Young would not leave United this month. Both players departed.

United need a striker to help in the short-term given Marcus Rashford‘s injury but King, 28, would be a long-term buy. The Norwegian striker is currently out injured but has been a massive part of Bournemouth’s success under Eddie Howe with 45 goals in 151 league appearances.

Bournemouth’s manager is reluctant to lose King but admitted that given his close connections to Man United, the move could happen if United match Bournemouth’s valuation of the player.

“He’s a massive part of our team, as he has been for a long time,” Howe said. “Speaking as the manager of the club I would be very reluctant to lose a player of his quality. I love Josh as a player and a person. I have respect for him. I know his situation, what Manchester United means to him, with his history connected to the club, I understand his position. Let’s wait and see.”

Howe added that given how late this approach has arrived from United, it would be tough for Bournemouth to find a replacement for King: “It’s not my call at the end of the day, that’s going to be between the chief executive and the owner, a lot of these things are out of my control.”

They would certainly need a replacement as they’re embroiled in a relegation battle and are set for a tense final few months of the season.

This sounds like a deal which could have legs in the final hours of the window and given King’s connection to United and Solskjaer, it certainly makes sense from an emotional point of view. He would add quality to United’s attack but how often would he play? That is something Solskjaer and United have to weigh up as Bournemouth will no doubt hike his transfer fee up.

King scored the winning goal as Bournemouth beat Man United 1-0 earlier this season, so the Red Devils know all about his quality and if the price is right, King would be quite a shrewd signing compared to being linked with Islam Slimani, Salomon Rondon and Odion Ighalo.

Transfer Rumor Roundup: Mertens to Chelsea, Robinson to AC Milan

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Watch our transfer deadline day show from 6-8 p.m. ET on Jan. 31, live on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com.


With just over 36 hours remaining until the January transfer window slams shut, teams are furiously hoping to make deals to bolster the squad for the remainder of the season. Some teams are motivated by injuries, others by a fear of relegation, others still by the chance at securing a spot in Europe.

Chelsea has been pushing for a new striker ever since Tammy Abraham went down with an ankle injury, and while Olivier Giroud and Michy Batshuayi sit in the wings, the Blues still seem desperate to throw anyone else out on the field – even an injured Abraham. They have been linked with a host of strikers, but with Edinson Cavani now reportedly staying in Paris, the Blues have progressed down the list.

[ TRANSFER TRACKER: Keep up to date on all done deals ]

Next up in the Chelsea striker rumor department is Belgian forward Dries Mertens, who is out of contract at Napoli at the end of the season. According to Sky Sports, the two clubs have begun engaging in negotiations to push forward a last-ditch deal before Friday’s deadline. The report suggests that Mertens could be had for as little as $6.5 million due to his current contract situation.

At 32 years old, Mertens has still been productive for Napoli this season. Despite a long goal and assist drought through late 2019, he has still collected four goals and three assists on the season. However, he’s missed all of January with an adductor injury that had troubled him for weeks, and that could carry over to the start of his Chelsea tenure. There is also the potential snag that Mertens is just four goals shy of Napoli’s all-time goalscoring record held by Marek Hamsik, and reports suggest there is a strong personal pull for him to stay the remainder of the season to try and break that mark before his contract runs out.


With Chelsea looking to bring on a new striker – even a 32-year-old one – it’s somewhat baffling how desperate the Blues seem given that Giroud and Batshuayi remain in the squad.

Giroud in particular won a World Cup just two years ago and many still believe he has a lot to offer, despite being 33 years old. Still, he has barely been afforded a chance under Frank Lampard with just five Premier League appearances this season and under 200 total minutes logged.

Desperate for a move away, few destinations have materialized. Reports indicated on Thursday that Giroud turned down an approach from Newcastle United, but one that may interest him is Serie A side Lazio, who reportedly is engaging in talks with Chelsea for Giroud according to Italian journalist Gianluca di Marzio. The report states that Lazio has already come to an agreement with the player, and now must agree to transfer terms with the Blues.


Crystal Palace has been busy on Thursday, with a pair of highly-rated Championship players potentially headed to play in the Premier League the second half of the season.

According to Sky Sports, Crystal Palace is in talks to land Jarrod Bowen from Hull City, while the BBC reports that the Eagles are set to sign West Brom defender Nathan Ferguson.

Bowen is the more coveted prize of the two, as the 23-year-old has scored a whopping 16 goals in Championship play thus far this season. Sky reports that Bowen would cost around $21 million and could be on his way soon. Still, there is caution from Sky reporter Michael Bridge who suggests that things are always fluid when teams are negotiating a step up for a highly rated young player.

19-year-old center-back Ferguson, meanwhile, is out of contract this summer at West Brom and has reportedly refused to sign a new deal. That has motivated the Baggies to try and find a suitor for his services before the window closes. Ferguson has made 19 Championship appearances this season for West Brom with the club sitting second in the league table, conceding 33 goals thus far, good for joint-fifth best in the Championship.


According to reports in France, Manchester United and Tottenham have both been in contact with AS Monaco about striker Islam Slimani, who is playing in Ligue 1 on loan from Leicester City. Monaco has Slimani on loan through the end of the season, but teams have looked to negotiate with the French side about a potential purchase since Monaco would need to break its loan deal early to trigger any move.

French journalist Ignazio Genuardi, backed by GetFrenchFootballNews, suggested that the Red Devils have contacted Monaco about the striker, while French publication Foot Mercato mentioned Spurs as a possible destination. Inter is also in the mix, reported by both Genuardi and Foot Mercado, as the Italian side looks to buy anyone and everyone this transfer window. Foot Mercato reports that Monaco is asking anyone interested to pay $2.8 million in addition to any Leicester City asking price to help break their loan.

While Slimani is reportedly looking for a way out of Monaco having started just once in Ligue 1 play since the start of December, it’s unlikely that such a complicated deal requiring negotiations with two parties will get over the line in such a short amount of time.


American defender Antonee Robinson has reportedly been a target for AC Milan for the last week or two, and that could be stepping up as the transfer window nears a close. According to a rumor from Football Insider, Robinson’s club Wigan Athletic has turned down a bid from AC Milan for Robinson worth about $8.5 million.

As our Nicolas Mendola stated the last time this rumor popped up, it would be an incredibly risky move for Robinson moving to AC Milan, with Theo Hernandez firmly entrenched in the starting left-back spot. Should the club fail to qualify for European competition – they’re currently making a charge but still on the outside looking in – minutes behind Hernandez would be hard to come by.

Neymar’s two goals not enough as PSG draws 3-3 with Monaco

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PARIS — Neymar’s two goals were not enough as Monaco punished sloppy defending to draw 3-3 at French league leader Paris Saint-Germain on Sunday.

PSG moved five points ahead of second-place Marseille, with PSG playing its game in hand at Monaco on Wednesday.

Robert Moreno’s first league game in charge of Monaco, after replacing the fired Leonardo Jardim, was an impressive one as his side twice came from behind and nearly won late on at Parc des Princes.

Neymar put PSG ahead in the third minute with an excellent finish, controlling a clever lofted pass over the defense from Italy midfielder Marco Verratti on his chest and nonchalantly guiding the ball inside the near post.

But Monaco midfielder Cesc Fabregas picked out Wissam Ben Yedder with a flicked pass from the edge of the area and, after Ben Yedder was bundled over by goalkeeper Keylor Navas, midfielder Gelson Martins poked in the loose ball after seven minutes.

Monaco’s second goal in the 12th looked alarmingly easy.

A team move started from the edge of Monaco’s penalty area ended with Ben Yedder collecting a pass inside PSG’s area, shuffling past a defender, and expertly beating Navas with a curling shot for his league-leading 14th goal of the season.

Eighth-place Monaco should have been 3-1 up but, with time to pick his spot, forward Keita Balde placed his shot too close to Navas.

PSG punished that immediately, with Neymar collecting a pass from Angel Di Maria and curling a shot which deflected off defender Fode Ballo-Toure for an own-goal in the 24th, making it 2-2.

After Monaco center half Kamil Glik hit the post with a header from a corner, PSG went ahead in the 42nd. Martins fouled Kylian Mbappe for a penalty, and Neymar sent goalkeeper Benjamin Lecomte the wrong way with ease for his 10th league goal.

Still, Monaco pressed forward and Russia midfielder Aleksandr Golovin curled wide with the goal at his mercy seconds before the break.

Lecomte reacted well to keep out Neymar’s shot early on in an even second half.

Substitute Islam Slimani punished more slack PSG defending to equalize in the 70th, turning home a loose ball after Martins bamboozled the PSG defense and his shot was deflected by Marquinhos into the alert Slimani’s path.

The referee disallowed the goal for offside, but then awarded it after a video review because Marquinhos’ intervention effectively played Slimani back onside.

Navas made a sharp one-handed save to keep out Slimani’s close-range header from a corner in the 88th. PSG was lucky to avoid a penalty since center half Thiago Silva deflected Slimani’s header with his raised hand.

CLINICAL NANTES

Mehdi Abeid and Ludovic Blas provided the goals as Nantes won 2-0 at struggling Saint-Etienne to move up to fourth place.

Abeid put Nantes ahead in the 23rd minute with a powerful strike from outside the penalty area after Saint-Etienne’s defense failed to clear the ball properly.

Blas netted three minutes after the break from Nigeria forward Moses Simon’s pass.

Saint-Etienne’s form has dropped in recent games and a ninth defeat of the season pushed coach Claude Puel‘s side down to 15th spot.

HOME COMFORT

Dijon extended its unbeaten home run to eight league games with a 1-0 win against Lille, despite having a player sent off early on.

Defender Hamza Mendyl received a red card in the 21st minute for kicking Luiz Araujo in the ribs.

After Lille missed several chances, Dijon scored in the 47th when Julio Tavares latched onto midfielder Mama Balde’s chested pass and shot confidently past goalkeeper Mike Maignan for his fourth league goal this season.

Both teams finished with 10 men after Lille midfielder Boubakary Soumare was sent off in the 67th.

Lille dropped to fifth place behind Nantes while Dijon, which beat PSG at home this season, rose to 16th place.